How to Clean Nubuck Leather? (Explained)

Ever since I first laid my hands on a piece of nubuck leather, I was both intrigued and challenged. The unique texture, the velvety feel, and the specific care it required made me keen on mastering its upkeep. And today, I want to share my personal journey and expertise on caring for this exquisite type of leather.

For those who don’t know, nubuck is an incredible type of leather that can be both stunning and a little temperamental. So, how do you ensure this beauty stays in pristine condition? Let’s get into it.

To clean Nubuck leather, use a soft bristle brush. You won’t need classic leather cleaning products. If you have deep stains, a humble eraser can wipe them out of existence. If you must use a commercial product, choose one that is purpose-designed for suede and nubuck leather.

Waging War Against Water Stains

Now, water stains. Ugh. Those dreaded blemishes can be the bane of any nubuck owner’s existence. But fear not! Whenever I encounter these, I have a trusted method:

  1. Immediate Action: Grab a soft, clean towel and dab the wet area gently. Switch to dry parts of the towel often. Remember, the goal is to soak up as much water as you can.
  2. Air Dry: Let your leather dry naturally. Don’t rush this part. Once dried, any remaining water stains will reveal themselves.
  3. Gentle Buffing: With a nubuck leather brush, warmed slightly for better effect, gently buff the stain. Remember, gentleness is the name of the game. And if the stain is particularly stubborn? A tiny dab of white vinegar can work wonders.
Pro Tip: Always treat water stains with patience. Rushing the process might cause more harm than good.

The Nitty-Gritty on Nubuck and Water

While nubuck has a tad more resilience than its cousin suede, it still despises water. But with proper care, those water stains can disappear, making your leather piece look brand new. And here’s a fun fact to remember: Unlike some leathers, nubuck doesn’t need cleaning every time you use it.

Household Hacks for Nubuck Cleaning

Beyond vinegar, another household hero for nubuck cleaning is cornmeal. Yes, the same stuff you might use in your kitchen! It’s a wonderful absorbent for oil spills or other mishaps. However, be cautious when thinking of using dish soap. A mild one can be used sparingly, but always test a small area first.

The Suede Eraser’s Dual Purpose

Given the similarities between nubuck and suede, you can definitely use a suede eraser for your nubuck pieces. Just as with cleaning, always use a gentle touch.

Making Your Own Nubuck Cleaner

I’ve seen many attempts to create their DIY nubuck cleaners. While the spirit of craftsmanship is commendable, for nubuck, I’d recommend sticking to cleaners specifically designed for it. Using other leather cleaners can be tempting, but remember, not all leathers are treated the same.

Getting Rid of Those Marks

We’ve all been there: that accidental scuff or mark on our beloved leather item. When it comes to nubuck, a dedicated brush or suede eraser is your best bet. And if you’re in a bind, a pencil eraser can work wonders.

Restoring Nubuck Shoes

Shoes. They face the brunt of daily wear and tear. For those cherished nubuck pairs, cleaning with the right products is essential. And after cleaning? Give them a break! Just as we need rest days, so do our shoes. Especially after a deep clean.

Nubuck, Saddle Soap, and Shoe Polish

Here’s a golden rule: avoid saddle soap for nubuck. While it works wonders on other leathers, nubuck isn’t one of them. As for shoe polish, opt for those explicitly made for nubuck or suede. And while on the topic of polishes.

Fun fact: waxy polishes are best for shoes, whereas creamier ones are ideal for clothing or furniture.

Mastering the Nubuck Cleaning Process

For those new to the nubuck game, always begin by reading your cleaner’s instructions. Especially for shoes, as they often bear the brunt of daily life. But with the right care, even the most worn nubuck can be revived.

There you have it, my comprehensive guide to caring for nubuck leather. It’s been a journey of trial error, and plenty of learning. But with patience and the right techniques, your nubuck leather will continue to turn heads. Until next time, happy leather crafting!

Best Practices for Cleaning Nubuck

Now, you might be wondering, what’s the best cleaner for nubuck leather? Despite its seemingly high-maintenance reputation, nubuck is actually quite economical when it comes to care products. The key is to use a specially designed cleaning product and a dedicated nubuck brush. And trust me, it’s a small investment for the longevity of your cherished leather pieces.

Fun Fact: In the early days, when I was just starting out and didn’t have a nubuck brush, I used an old, soft toothbrush. It worked surprisingly well!

Now, about Nubuck’s reputation – yes, it is particular, but in my experience, it’s equally simple to care for. Most wear and tear can be managed with a bristle brush. But for deeper cleaning needs, especially after one of my workshop sessions where it might catch some stains, a suede eraser does the trick. And a bit of nubuck leather cleanser can truly rejuvenate and restore the leather.

There you have it, my comprehensive guide to caring for nubuck leather. It’s been a journey of trial, error, and plenty of learning. But with patience and the right techniques, your nubuck leather will continue to turn heads.

Andre from

Andre is a passionate leatherworker who spends his spare time working with leather. He loves the smell and feel of leather, and he takes great care in selecting the right pieces of leather for his projects. Read more here.